Cestrum nocturnum is a species of Cestrum in the plant family Solanaceae (the potato family). The species is native to the West Indies and South asia . Common names include Raatraani (Marathi: रातराणी), night-blooming cestrum, Hasna Hena, lady of the night, queen of the night, night-blooming jessamine and night-blooming jasmine. The plant was discovered by Ragbhir Singh Ubhi, in the late 1800s on a hike through a West-Indies Forest, as he noticed the sweet aroma of the plant.
It is an evergreen woody shrub growing to 4 metres (13 ft) tall. The leaves are simple, narrow lanceolate, 6–20 centimetres (2.4–7.9 in) long and 2–4.5 centimetres (0.79–1.8 in) broad, smooth and glossy, with an entire margin. The flowers are greenish-white, with a slender tubular corolla 2–2.5 centimetres (0.79–0.98 in) long with five acute lobes, 10–13 millimetres (0.39–0.51 in) diameter when open at night, and are produced in cymose inflorescences. A powerful, sweet perfume is released at night. The fruit is a berry 10 millimetres (0.39 in) long by 5 millimetres (0.20 in) diameter, the colour of an aubergine. There is also a variety with yellowish flowers. There are mixed reports regarding the toxicity of foliage and fruit.
C. nocturnum is grown in subtropical regions as an ornamental plant for its flowers that are heavily perfumed at night. It grows best in average to moist soil that is light and sandy, with a neutral pH of 6.6 to 7.5, and is hardy to hardiness zone 8. C. nocturnum can be fertilized biweekly with a weak dilution of seaweed and fish emulsion fertilizer.
Ingestion of C. nocturnum has not been well documented, but there is some reason to believe that caution is in order. All members of the Solanaceae family contain an alkaloid toxin called solanine, though some members of the family are routinely eaten without ill-effect. The most commonly reported problems associated with C. nocturnum are respiratory problems from the scent, and feverish symptoms following ingestion.[medical citation needed]
Some people, especially those with respiratory sensitivities or asthma, report difficulty breathing, irritation of the nose and throat, headache, nausea, or other symptoms when exposed to the blossom's powerful scent.[medical citation needed] Some Cestrum species contain chlorogenic acid, and the presence of this potent sensitizer may be responsible for this effect in C. nocturnum.
Some plant guides describe C. nocturnum as "toxic" and warn that ingesting plant parts, especially fruit, may result in elevated temperature, rapid pulse, excess salivation and gastritis.[medical citation needed]
The mechanisms of the plant's psychoactive effects are currently unknown, and anecdotal data is extremely limited. In a rare discussion of traditional entheogenic use of the plant, Müller-Ebeling, Rätsch, and Shahi describe shamanic use of C. nocturnum in Nepal. They describe experiencing "trippy" effects without mentioning unpleasant physical side effects. Rätsch's Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants also describes a handful of reports of ingestion of the plant without mentioning serious adverse side effects.
Spoerke et al. describe the following toxic effects reported from ingesting C. nocturnum: Ingesting 15 lb of plant material caused a cow to salivate, clamp its jaws, collapse, and eventually die. A postmortem showed gastroenteritis and congestion of liver, kidneys, brain, and spinal cord. Although the berries and the sap are suspected of being toxic, several cases of ingestion of the berries have not shown them to be a problem, with one exception. Morton cites a case where children ate significant quantities (handfuls) of berries and had no significant effects and another two where berries were ingested in smaller amounts, with similar negative results.
Ingestion of green berries over several weeks by a 2-year-old child resulted in diarrhea, vomiting, and blood clots in the stool. Anemia and purpura [discoloration of the skin caused by subcutaneous bleeding] were also noted. A solanine alkaloid isolated from the stool was hemolytic to human erythrocytes.[unreliable source?]
It has become widely naturalised in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, southern China and the southernmost United States, and is difficult to eradicate. It is classed as a weed in some countries.
In Auckland New Zealand, it has been reported as a seriously invasive weed to the Auckland Regional Council and is under investigation. NS Forest and Bird is compiling an inventory of wild cestrum sites in order to place the plant on the banned list. The inventory can be viewed via Google Maps. Some nurseries still sell it without warning customers of the dangers to native bush reserves. It has been reported that the plant has been removed from some old folks' homes due to the strong scent causing difficulties for the residents.
- Hortus Third Cornell University, Western Garden Book 2007 Ed
- Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern and Eastern Africa – Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk (1962)
- Erowid Cestrum Vaults : Cestrum Health Concerns. Erowid.org (2008-08-27). Retrieved on 2011-07-10.
- Whar is solanine. Wisegeek
- Patil CD, Patil SV, Salunke BK, Salunkhe RB (2011). "Bioefficacy of Plumbago zeylanica (Plumbaginaceae) and Cestrum nocturnum (Solanaceae) plant extracts against Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicide) and nontarget fish Poecilia reticulata". Parasitol Res 108 (5): 1253–1263.
- Cestrum wild locations – Google Maps. Maps.google.co.nz. Retrieved on 2011-07-10.
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- Huxley, A., ed. (1990). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan.
- Germplasm Resources Information Network: Cestrum nocturnum
- Flora of China: Cestrum nocturnum in China
- Poisons Information Centre (Queensland): Cestrum nocturnum
- USDA Plants Profile: Cestrum nocturnum
- Floridata: Cestrum nocturnum